This weekend showed the enormous gap between Orioles and Red Sox - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Rich Dubroff

This weekend showed the enormous gap between Orioles and Red Sox

Photo credit: USA Today Sports

BALTIMORE—Everyone knows how much difference there is between the Boston Red Sox and the Orioles, so it was no surprise that the Red Sox swept the Orioles in four straight games this weekend.

But, at times, the Orioles teased their fans into thinking they had a chance. By the end of Sunday, no one had to be convinced that the Red Sox were the team with the best record in baseball (85-35) and the Orioles the team with the worst (35-84).

Chris Sale toyed with the Orioles. He struck out 12 of the 16 batters he faced in five innings. Sale was removed as a precaution after a short stint on the disabled list because of shoulder inflammation. In his last four starts, Sale has pitched 24 scoreless innings, allowing just 12 hits.

The Orioles lost to the Red Sox, 4-1, striking out 18 times — a season high for a nine-inning game.

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“What you talk about is how close the games were … they get the tack-on run late or two,” manager Buck Showalter said.

“That’s what we did when we were real competitive. Those are the type of things you have to do. Obviously, they are more than just a good offensive club. I think the point I would make is you see what our record is and see what their record is, but realizing that in all four games there were moments where we were very close to winning the game. It’s not like it was … but that’s what happens at this level — the small separators, and sometimes that’s an experience factor, too.”

The Orioles don’t have pitchers like Sale, David Price and Rick Porcello. They don’t have a closer like Craig Kimbrel or everyday players like Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez.

Their recent fire sale has only accentuated the differences between the teams.

“That’s a World Series-contending team right there,” pitcher Alex Cobb said.

“They’re built to win it this year. We just went through a major overhaul of transforming this into something that it was two months ago into what it is now. We know that there’s going to be growing pains that are going to come with our season this year and possibly into next season and after the year after that maybe.”

Cobb continued his run of strong starts. In his last six starts, Cobb has an ERA of 2.17, but just one win. Unfairly, his record drops to 3-15, and his season ERA to 5.31.

“Outstanding. He was great,” Showalter said. “He’s been that way for a while now. He’s been solid. When you think about in time of need, with our bullpen situation, that was as good as you can expect.”

The Orioles suffered a four-game sweep for the fourth time this season. They’re a season-worst 49 games under .500, and an incredible 49 ½ games behind Boston in the American League East.

With 43 games remaining, the Orioles will have to go 28-15 to avoid losing 100 games. In order to escape the worst record in franchise history (54-107 in 1988), they must win 20 of the 43 games left.

“We’re all competitors. and we’re all in the big leagues so we are capable of making those adjustments and just want to keep making adjustments pitch to pitch,” shortstop Tim Beckham said.

“Just grind it out. This game is a grind. We’re going to grind it out until the end of this season, no matter what our record is, no matter if we’re going to the playoffs or not. We all have pride in here. So that’s what we’re intent to feeling. We have pride. We’re going to play to win no matter what our record is, no matter how many games we have left.”

When the Orioles signed Cobb near the end of spring training, some observers thought that could make the team competitive, perhaps even a wild-card team. That has hardly been the case, and the classy veteran has had to endure the worst season of his career.

“We know there’s a lot of work that we need to do,” Cobb said. “Our goal is to end up having teams feel like we did after this series when we leave their town. We need to do a lot. We need to do every aspect of the game better. That progression starts now.”

Trumbo ailing

Mark Trumbo didn’t start for the second straight game. He was used as a pinch-hitter Saturday night and made the last out of Sunday’s game. Trumbo has soreness in his right knee and might receive an injection by team orthopedist Dr. Leigh Ann Curl.

Showalter hoped that Trumbo would be able to play Tuesday when the New York Mets arrive for a two-game series.

Villar at short

For the first time since he joined the Orioles, Beckham, who has been struggling at short, was a healthy scratch in Saturday night’s game. Jonathan Villar played shortstop for the first time since Sept. 12, 2016.

“I think Jonathan’s got enough reps there,” Showalter said. He’ll get some periodic looks there, just to verify what we think. If you look at his track record, he’s got a number of games at shortstop.”

Beckham has two more years before free agency, and the Orioles want to see what they have in him.

“I really want to give Tim a good look there as much as we can,” Showalter said.

“There’ll be a lot of things between now and the end of the season. We’ll get [Steve] Wilkerson out there some.”

Wilkerson is rehabbing an oblique injury and may not join the Orioles until the rosters expand Sept. 1.

Showalter displeased with Wendelstedt

Before the game, Showalter took the lineup card out to home plate himself. He rarely does that except before the first game of a series, but he wanted to make a point and pulled aside third base umpire Hunter Wendelstedt for a private chat.

Showalter was unhappy with Wendelstedt’s performance behind the plate in Saturday night’s game. He thought Wendelstedt had insulted his team.

“Like I told the umpire last night, our guys have bubble gum cards, too. Maybe not as lucrative numbers as their guys,” Showalter said.

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16 Comments

16 Comments

  1. Raymo

    August 12, 2018 at 7:55 pm

    Rich, one thing I’ve come to expect here at BB.com is expert analysis with no pulling punches. So I have to ask, what was behind the Wendelstedt issue? Was he calling a smaller strike zone for the RS pitchers? What was Buck’s gripe and was it legitimate?

    • Rich Dubroff

      August 12, 2018 at 8:18 pm

      Raymo, Buck didn’t like the way Wendelstedt spoke to a player after the player complained politely about strike calls. His strike zone seemed out of whack. I’d have to say Buck was in the right.

  2. Ekim

    August 12, 2018 at 8:40 pm

    This weekend highlighted the difference between a professionally operated franchise and the joke the O’s have become. I’ve been a fan for 38 years. I ‘survived’ the 22 losses in a row and the 14 seasons ‘in the dark’ and found reasons to continue. But this is ridiculous!

    • Rich Dubroff

      August 12, 2018 at 10:53 pm

      Ekim, I just hope you continue with BaltimoreBaseball.com.

    • Ekim

      August 13, 2018 at 6:37 am

      I’m not going anywhere…

  3. Borg

    August 13, 2018 at 7:25 am

    As far as seeing what the Orioles have in Beckham, I think the most obvious answer is that he is mentally unable to handle being the shortstop on a regular basis. The number of fundamental errors he makes, from how to apply a tag, to footwork, catching throws, etc. is stunning for someone who was a number one draft pick not too long ago. Unfortunately, it also means the Orioles won’t be able to deal him and will be eating two more years of mediocre play. If there is a good defensive shortstop in the system, no matter how young, I would prefer seeing him up here auditioning. What concerns me is the defense and shortstop has to be your most consistent infield position, otherwise your pitchers will struggle to get out of innings (cue any game tape from this year).
    I am also wondering if they truly believe Nunez is the future at third base. He only looks like a decent hitter in comparison to the train wreck that is this year’s Orioles lineup, but a .247 hitting third baseman can’t be what they are envisioning moving forward. Where is Mountcastle? I know the knock on him is his defense (re: what I just stated above) but at this point what is to lose by getting him 150 major league ABs while seeing what that defense looks like at a major league level. I fear that even after the Sept 1 call-ups, Buck will continue playing veterans as he always does and the minor leaguers will end up the month getting 25 ABs instead of 100+. Stewart and Cisco should be up now as well, and Joseph and Rickard should not see the field the rest of the year. Neither one of them is the future and they are eating up valuable at bats that could be better spent on developing players. It is still difficult to see any real long-term plan being put into place. Looking at the roster, an outsider would think only Mullins and the bullpen are part of the future plans and every other position is solid, which any fan knows is not the case.

    • bigdaddydk

      August 13, 2018 at 8:42 am

      In theory anyway, the future SS should be Grenier, the kid they took in this year’s draft. Although that could change if Bobby Witt, Jr., is the guy we take in the next draft. Grenier’s glove will play for sure. He can flash the leather. But his bat was suspect coming in and he’s not exactly tearing up low A pitchers at the moment. He needs time to develop before totally crushing his confidence with MLB pitching.

      Mountcastle, unless he can play a corner OF position, looks more and more like a DH only. He is rated the #7 3B prospect by MLB Pipeline, but that’s got to be based almost exclusively on his bat His career at 3B shows a .917 fielding percentage with 21 errors in 254 career chances over 106 games in the minors. If his defense doesn’t play at Bowie, I can’t see him as an everyday 3B for the O’s. Although, a lack of a legitimate 3B does change that some.

    • Rich Dubroff

      August 13, 2018 at 9:27 am

      Borg and Big Daddy make some valid points.

      Just because you’re seeing players now doesn’t mean they’ll be playing for the Orioles next season.

      DJ Stewart is hitting .239 at Norfolk. Chance Sisco is hitting .213 there. Do they deserve promotions on those numbers?

      Austin Wynns played a couple of times recently and he’s getting a look.

      The bullpen is full of young pitchers getting trials.

      Nunez has never played regularly in the majors before. Danny Valencia, a veteran, was jettisoned to allow Nunez to get a longer look because there isn’t a major league-ready third baseman in the system.

      Same thing at shortstop. Cadyn Grenier is having difficulties offensively at Delmarva. He needs time.

      Mountcastle will hit in the major leagues, but could be a DH. If he’s brought to the majors as a third baseman, he’s not going to suddenly improve defensively and his offense is likely to suffer as well.

      • Borg

        August 13, 2018 at 6:07 pm

        I’m not advocating that they should bring a young SS up now and hand him the job next year. It takes time to learn to hit, but the glove should be there already if it is going to be. What I was envisioning was getting a look at the fielding and not worry about the bat since they’ll be in the minors next year to work on that. I guess I would rather see that than watch Beckham butcher balls that former Orioles shortstops made every time.
        As for the minor league batting averages, so what? This is hardly the time to look at future players and ask if they “deserve” to be promoted. Does Davis “deserve” $23 million for what he is doing? Did Ubaldo and Miley deserve their bloated salaries last year? If those players mentioned are the future, then find out if they can handle the majors so if the answer is no the Os can move on without wasting time later.
        Just a note on Mountcastle-I saw him play at Frederick a few years ago and the first impression I had was he didn’t have the arm to be a shortstop (and that came just from watching warm-ups) . They don’t need ANOTHER Dh so if that is the case that his glove is that bad, then see if some other orgainzation will want his bat and get somebody more well-rounded for him.

        • Rich Dubroff

          August 13, 2018 at 9:01 pm

          Borg, if a player hits poorly in the minors, they’re not likely to hit better in the major leagues.

          When you’re talking about Davis, Jimenez and Miley, you’re comparing major league contracts with their restrictions to minor league contracts.

          With players who haven’t reached free agency, they can be easily optioned to the minors until they exhaust three options. Surely the Orioles would option underperforming veterans if it were that easy.

          If you promote a player too quickly, it can harm them mentally. If they can’t hit at all, their fielding can be shaky, too. With good players and prospects, that won’t happen, but it’s a consideration.

          • Borg

            August 14, 2018 at 8:39 am

            I see your point, but if the players promoted weren’t considered good players or prospects in hte first place, why would they be promoted?
            Regarding the option issue, let me restate my point to take that into consideration-after Sept 1 the rest of the season should be mostly focused on auditioning possible future players and not giving too many ABs to players not part of the rebuild. Rickard is a valuable fourth outfielder, but they don’t need to see more of him-he is the OF equivalent of Flaherty-an above average fielder who has occasional pop but isn’t someone you want to see in the lineup for ten straight days. I like Joseph, but he isn’t the future. The only logical reason for giving him so much playing time would be to hope he finishes strong and has some trade value over the winter.
            Predicting major league performance from minor league stats is, at best, a calculated guess and is far from an exact science. If it was, there would be no surprises, good or bad, upon player promotions and that happens all the time. I don’t envision suddenly playing nine minor leaguers in September, but there are three or four everyday players who could be looked at, as well as continuing to audition the young arms. I would just like to see some semblance of a long-term plan, and if this isn’t it, fine; show the fans something else. But let’s not fool ourselves into believing that simply accumulating bodies for stars translates into anything other than lowering salary unless a good number of those bodies pan out.

  4. GSISDANNO

    August 13, 2018 at 3:21 pm

    The condition of the Orioles has everything to do with past mistakes. We can’t change what has already happened. But, we can keep these mistakes from happening again. We need a new general manager now!!! Not at the end of the season.
    This team is 49.5 games out of first place. If this isn’t rock bottom, we can see it from here.

    • Rich Dubroff

      August 13, 2018 at 9:03 pm

      Well, DANNO, I think rock bottom can only be viewed in hindsight. I never envisioned a season unfolding like this one has. I appreciate your comments.

  5. Ezrine Tire Award

    August 13, 2018 at 6:19 pm

    I don’t see this team winning 15 games through season’s end. Marv Throneberry and the other ’62 Mets must be ecstatic.

    • Ekim

      August 13, 2018 at 6:34 pm

      Ez… I was there for that. The difference is no one expected anything from those Mets. It was just nice to have a team other than the Yankees to go and see. It was a fun time.

    • Rich Dubroff

      August 13, 2018 at 9:14 pm

      Ezrine, the 1962 Mets won just 40 games. The Orioles have to win six of their 43 remaining games to better that. I think that’s a safe bet. Incidentally, Marv Throneberry died in 1994.

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